‘The Ring’ producer brings ghost story TV show straight to iPhone

Josh Peterson Tech Editor
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The connectivity of smartphones is providing inventive ways for horror film producers to scare the hell out of their fans.

Film-producer Neal Edelstein is taking advantage of the personal relationship between a smartphone and its user in his latest ghost story, “Haunting Melissa.”

The movie is available as a free downloadable app through the iTunes App Store for iPhone and iPad.

With production credits for the American-remake of the horror flick “The Ring” — and its sequel, “The Ring 2” — Edelstein is no stranger to invoking strong emotions from his audience.

Written by best-selling author Andrew Kavlan, “Haunting Melissa” is the story about a teenage girl who believes she is being haunted by her dead mother.

Melissa Strogue, the movie’s main character, is played by Calgary actress Kassia Warshawski. The movie was shot in the hauntingly beautiful woods around Calgary, Alberta.

With ‘Haunting Melissa,’ longtime Apple fan Edelstein is hoping to use the company’s mobile devices to forge a new way for movie buffs to consume film.

“It’s very much a film in its approach, in how you put it together,” Edelstein told The Daily Caller, “but it’s very different than a film because you have to have a completely different discipline and group of people shaping how you end up ultimately in the app store.”

“The ideal for me was to get people to put their headphones on, sit in a corner of a dark room, and watch this ghost story and be scared because we know these devices work emotionally,” Edelstein said.

Edelstein has always loved ghost stories, he said, calling it a “movie-makers genre.” The stories are personal as well, making mobile devices the perfect medium for the genre.

“I have to use the devices to make the emotions work, because that’s what ghost stories are,” he said.

“Haunting Melissa” is a ghost story told piece-by-piece, and was conceived to be “uniquely different.”

The first chapter of the movie is free, but viewing the subsequent chapters requires either a paid download or a Facebook share.

Chapters — which vary in length — arrive unpredictably on a viewer’s device through the movie’s app. Installments are less-than-weekly.

Viewers are not allowed to skip ahead to future chapters until they are notified on their device, creating a different storytelling rhythm than traditional movies.

Taking advantage of the “theater of the mind,” Edelstein is leveraging the wait he makes viewers endure to build the suspense and build the story.

For Edelstein, however, the final chapter of “Haunting Melissa” isn’t the end of the ghost story.

Instead, it is the first part of a larger “Haunting Melissa” universe he is creating with his new company Hooked Digital Media.

“Once that app is on your device, I have a TV channel, I have a network, I have a movie theater, that I can control,” said Edelstein. “I have so much control to just serve and push content because I already built the system.”

While using social media to promote certain content from the story, a sequel and an ebook series are also on the way.

Even already-viewed chapters appear different when re-watched, creating a dynamic movie-watching experience.

Hooked Digital Media, he said, is also in talks to create new stories with other major household names.

“We see this as a very viable business, and a completely new way to get directly to an excited, hungry entertainment audience,” said Edelstein.

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